All posts by April Maney

Parvovirus in Canberra and surrounds

Recently there have been multiple cases of canine Parvovirus reported by veterinarians in Canberra and it’s surrounds. Parvovirus is a highly contagious and potentially fatal virus that causes extreme vomiting and diarrhoea leading to dehydration, lethargy, septicemia and even death in severe cases.


This virus can be spread directly through contact with an infected dog or through faeces or indirectly through items like water bowls, collars and leashes or the hands or clothing of people that have touched an infected dog. Parvovirus can also remain active in infected soil for years, i.e. at ovals or dog parks where an infected dog has been.
Dogs less than 1 year of age are most at risk however older un-vaccinated dogs can also contract the disease.
Most dogs will recover with aggressive supportive treatment if started early. The main focus of treatment is intravenous fluids to replace lost fluids and re-balance electrolytes, pain relief to ensure the patient remains comfortable and medication to control vomiting and nausea. Patients may require treatment in hospital for many days before recovering.


The good news is that Parvo is a preventable virus and is covered in your dog’s normal C3/C5 vaccination. We recommend that puppies have 3 vaccinations at 6-8 weeks, 10-12 weeks and 16 weeks of age. They also require a booster vaccination at around 15 months of age and then a booster every 3 years for life.
We’d like to take this opportunity to remind new puppy owners that your dog is not covered until 10 days after their second C3 vaccination and you should avoid taking your dog to public places like foot paths, dog parks and ovals until they have received all 3 vaccinations. If you are unsure of your puppy or adult dog’s vaccination status please give us a call on 6230 2223. If you notice decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea or lethargy in your pet please call your vet ASAP.

Patient Spotlight – Crookshanks the Cat

Warning: this blog post contains graphic surgical images 

Crookshanks is a lovely cat that came in to see us as she had been losing weight and her owners had noticed blood in her urine.  After running blood and urine tests we then performed an abdominal ultrasound. 

The ultrasound highlighted that Crookshanks had a stone in her ureter – the ureter is the tube through which urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder.  The diagram below shows the kidneys, ureters and bladder.

diagram source: Merck Vet Manual

When the ureter becomes blocked the kidney fills with urine and cannot empty.  This was also the cause of the blood Crookshanks’ owner noticed in her urine. 

On ultrasound a normal kidney is bean shaped, it has a light grey outer shell, and a darker middle area.  In the images below the kidney outline is circled in red. 

Here is an example of a normal ultrasound, the kidney is circled in red. Source: JSFM ultrasound of the feline kidney .

Below are ultrasound images of Crookshanks’ kidney.  Again, the outline of the kidney is highlighted in red.  The centre of the kidney is black, this is the urine that is building up because her ureter is blocked.  Her ureter is widened and full of urine.  The ureter is outlined in blue in this image.

Ultrasound image of Crookshanks’ Kidney and Ureter. Kidney is outlined in red and full of urine, the ureter is outlined in blue and is dilated, indicating blockage of flow through to the bladder.
The same image without outlines.

We followed the widened ureter down towards the bladder wih the ultrasound probe.  This is when we found the stones that were causing the blockage.  The ureter is outlined in blue, and there is a green arrow pointing towards the stones.

Crookshanks’ ureter is outlined in blue, the green arrow is pointing to the stone that was causing the blockage.

Crookshanks’ went into surgery with Dr Vickie Saye to have the stone removed.  The ureter is very tiny, only a few millimeters thick, so it was a very intricate and delicate surgery.  You can see in the photo below, the ureter is so small that you can only fit a very fine piece of suture material through it.  The photo was taken during Crookshanks’ surgery and the suture material was passed through the ureter to ensure that all stones had been removed and the ureter was blockage free.

The fine blue string like material is the suture material used to pass through the ureter and ensure there were no more stones blocking urine from travelling through to the bladder.

Two stones were removed from Crookshanks’ ureters.  They were very small only 1-2mm in size, amazing that something so small can cause such big problems.


Here are the two stones surgically removed from Crookshanks’ ureter. There were TINY, about 1mm in size.

Crookshanks required intensive care and monitoring after her surgery.  She was in hospital for several days. 

Crookshanks resting in hospital on intravenous fluids and pain relief in a nice cozy bed.

She is now much brighter and happier than she was before the surgery, as she is not in pain anymore.  She is even starting to put on weight.  She enjoys being able to join her sister McGonagall for walks on lead around the suburb. She will be on a special prescription diet for the rest of her life to help prevent the stones from reoccurring. 

Exercising the body and the brain, Crookshanks loves being well enough to join her sister for walks!

Casper, the kitty who didn’t learn his lesson..

Casper the confident kitty

Casper is a sweet, outgoing and confident 9 month old cat who loves to explore and play. Ever since he was a tiny kitten his family always thought he was more like a dog then a cat, his human brother and sister have even taught him to sit and wait for his meals just like a dog. Casper’s family live on a farm and he loves exploring through the paddocks.

Casper’s first non-routine visit with us was in November of 2018, after he refused to eat both breakfast and dinner (which was unusual for typically ravenous Casper) and then vomited too. On physical examination Dr Lesa found that he was painful when she palpated his abdomen, which hinted at the possibility of a foreign object in his tummy.

Casper was admitted to hospital to have an x-ray of his abdomen for further investigation.

Circled in red is a plug shaped radio-opaque foreign body

Another view of the plug shaped foreign body

As you can see above, Capser’s x-rays revealed a plug shaped foreign body in his abdomen. The safest thing to do for Casper was to perform an urgent exploratory laparotomy (ex-lap) to remove the foreign body. Dr Jenny performed his surgery the same day and removed a small green rubber plug-like object. Casper recovered well and returned home to his family the following day. The only mystery remaining, what on earth was the plug-like object that Capser ingested and where did he find it? His family searched and searched but couldn’t figure out where the object came from, they disposed of the object and life returned to normal.

Fast forward 2 months to the 30th of January. Casper began showing the same symptoms at home as he did back in November, vomiting and some loss of appetite. His owners, who are now well versed in the possible causes of vomiting and armed with the knowledge that he is known to eat things he shouldn’t, brought Casper back in for another check up.

Due to his history, Dr Gillian recommended that we repeat his abdominal x-rays.

Casper’s second lot of x-rays were almost an exact replica of his first, showing another plug-shaped object in his abdomen

You wouldn’t believe it but Casper’s new x-ray was almost an exact replica of the x-rays taken back in November.
Here are the two images side by side:

The whole Hall Vet Surgery team was shocked to see that it seemed that Casper had ingested something of the exact same shape, size and material as the first time.

Casper then underwent his second urgent surgery to remove a foreign body from his abdomen. Another successful surgery later and his owners were on a mission to find out where the mysterious objects were coming from.

Caspers whole family were out scouring the paddock from top to bottom to find any trace of the rubber plugs when they came across these..

They were toy bullets from Capser’s human brother’s Nerf Gun. It seems that Casper had been finding the bullets, chewing on the styrofoam section and accidentally ingesting the rubber plug from the end of the bullets.

We are thankful that Casper’s family has found the source of the foreign bodies and we now urge anyone with children and pets to be cautious of Nerf Bullets and the risks they pose to your animals if ingested. It is safe to say that Nerf Guns have been banned in Casper’s household!

Casper is back to his normal happy self thanks to his quick acting owners

If your pet loses their appetite, vomits or becomes lethargic it is always worth coming in for a check up. Casper’s quick acting owners may have just saved his life, twice!

Tips to keep dogs safe at Christmas

Safety tips for Christmas time!

As we head into the festive season and look forward to relaxing with family and friends, it’s a good time to give some thought to keeping our pets safe as they join us in the fun festivities!

 

Here are some potential dangers to watch out for:

 

Some human foods are just not meant for dogs:
Chocolate, plum pudding, Christmas cake, fruit platters and delicious roasts and stuffing. What could possibly be wrong with sharing that!

Unfortunately, these Christmas goodies can contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, including chocolate, sultanas, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic and macadamia nuts.

Signs will depend on the food that has been eaten and can be delayed. For example kidney damage from grapes and raisins may not become apparent until weeks down the track. If your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have, please speak to a veterinarian immediately.

 

Alcohol
This is a no-brainer really but there is NO safe amount of alcohol for your dog to have. Effects will range from depression, difficulty walking, slow breathing, collapse and even possibly loss of life.

 

Overindulgence
Just a little bit of ham can’t hurt, right? Well, a little here and a little there adds up! We love to treat our pets but we need to remember that a little to us can be a lot to them, and eating too much of something different or high in fat is a very common cause of illness for them.

Overindulgence can trigger stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and even pancreatitis (which can be fatal). Feeding cooked bones should always be avoided as these can cause bowel obstructions and constipation requiring intervention.

Don’t risk your dog getting treats from the BBQ or scavenging from finished plates. If you can’t ensure your guests will resist your dog’s pleading eyes, then you are better off to have your dog safely out of their way!

You need to take control here on behalf of your pooch, because they are not going say no!

 

Noise Anxiety
Parties, fireworks and summer storms make Christmas time hard for dogs who are prone to anxiety.
Nobody knows your pet better than you do. Always observe your mate closely and look for the subtle signs that they are worried, and take action.

Avoid the stressors where possible, and make sure they always have access to a quiet, safe retreat. Some pets will benefit from judicious medication to get through this time unscathed. Please call us if you would like to discuss.

The Christmas Tree!
Now, we’re not saying don’t have one! We like the festive fun as much as anyone, but here are a few things to consider if you do.

  • Tummy upsets after chewing pine needles or drinking stagnant Christmas tree water.
  • Electrocution is a risk if your pooch starts chewing the Christmas tree lights.
  • Obstruction or injury to the bowel can occur if tinsel, other decorations, wrappings or ribbons are eaten.

So to make things easy, here’s a checklist on how to make your Christmas tree dog-friendly this year.

  1. Cover or box around the tree stand.
  2. Plastic cover the electric cord for the lights.
  3. Plastic or non-breakable decorations (no glass)
  4. Decorations secured in place.
  5. Tinsel up high out of reach (or none at all)
  6. Secure the tree so that it can’t easily fall.

 

Holiday Plants
Popular Christmas plants and flowers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, lilies, hibiscus, Christmas cactus, berries, mistletoe and holly leaves are all poisonous to your pets. Make sure they are out of their reach, as consumption could result in illness or even death.

 

Batteries & Toys
Swallowed batteries are very dangerous for dogs, causing a range of issues from burning their gut to a life-threatening obstruction or stomach rupture! Batteries are a common addition to Christmas gifts so please ensure they are kept well out of reach of your pooch.

Many toys contain small plastic, rubber or metal parts that, if eaten by a dog, can cause choking or dangerous gastrointestinal blockage requiring immediate surgery.

With a little careful planning, you can ensure your Christmas celebrations will be free of unnecessary trips to the vet. However, if you have concerns after hours during the festive season, please call:

Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services on: 62257257
Or
Animal Emergency Centre Canberra on: 62806344

We wish you and your furry family happy and safe holidays!

 

Reference to an article by Dr Claire Jenkins  Co-founder of Vetchat.

From Tabby to Tiger – the Wild Side of our Domestic Cats

Taking a look at the wild side of your kitty cat

That relaxed moggy purring on our lap is closer to its wild ancestors than you might think. Pet cats may be domestic animals, but they are much less domesticated than our pet dogs.  The following evolutionary quirks show that there is much in common between our domestic cats and their wild cousins.

Cats need to eat meat. All felids from tabby to tiger require high levels of animal protein in their diet. This provides certain amino acids like taurine that other mammals (including ourselves) do not need in their diet. Essential hormones for breeding and vitamins like thiamine are more easily extracted from meat than plants.

Cats have lost their ability to taste sugars as they don’t need to detect ripening fruit, however their taste buds are much more discerning when it comes to distinguishing different flavours of meat, making some family felines frustratingly fussy at times.

Genetically, domestic cats are very similar to wildcats. They only emerged as a separate subspecies around 10,000 years ago. Studies are underway to pinpoint the differences in DNA sequencing that makes it possible for domestic cats to socialise with us, something that wildcats are unable to do.

Most wild cats lead solitary lives in order to effectively hunt small prey. The main exception being lions who live together in prides and hunt prey large enough to feed many members of their social group.

Whilst male domestic cats living in the wild are solitary, related females will often live in social groups when food is abundant and share the raising of their kittens. Pet cats show affection for us in the same way that related cats show social behaviour to each other, raising their tails upright and attempting to groom us. It is less common for unrelated pet cats that have not grown up together to develop these strong social bonds. They are more likely to live their separate lives within the home and require separate access to key resources like food, water, litter, scratching poles and resting places to fulfil their needs.

Most smaller felids, including domestic cats are nocturnal in the wild. Those beautiful big eyes allow them to gather enough light to see at night. A domestic cat’s eyes are almost as big as ours. Their retina is about six times more sensitive than ours and their brain is wired to pick up small movements. All felids have a reflective layer behind their retina to increase night vision. This produces their distinctive green reflection in a torch beam at night.

For cats, play is hunting behaviour. Whether they are pouncing and grasping small toys in the teeth, or holding a larger toy with all four sets of claws, this resembles the way they catch a meal in the wild. Domestic cats were originally kept to control pests like rats and mice. Inside their heads they are still hunters and will rip up small toys more intensely on an empty stomach in pursuit of a meal.

As stalking hunters, cats are designed to lay motionless in wait for prey and then leap into action at the crucial moment. This ‘kindle’ reflex can be seen in pet cats, when, in what seems like a nanosecond they can be triggered into an aroused state which can take many hours to abate.

As solitary hunters, domestic cats tend to hunt in separate territories and rarely see or hear each other. To avoid confrontation that could cause life threatening wounds, they communicate by smell. Just like lions and tigers, domestic felids deposit urine around their territories and rub their cheeks on prominent landmarks to leave a scent from skin glands. All cats possess a second ‘nose’, the vomeronasal organ, situated between the palate and nose for processing the messages left by other cats.  Lions and tigers curl their top lip in a ‘Flehmen’ response when using this sense. Domestic cats will seem to go into a brief trance as they use subtle muscles around this organ to draw the chemical message or pheromone into the gland and gain information about the identity of its owner.

Our feline friends bring so much joy into our lives. It is helpful to have some understanding of their close ties to ancestral behaviours and how that affects the way they see the world. This reminds us to keep them away from native wildlife, helps us to accommodate their needs in a domestic household and to interact with them in a way that builds a mutual bond.

Reference: John Bradshaw, BBC Science Focus online magazine 18 Jan 2018

Cuddling Kitty – On Their Terms

Have you ever been grabbed for a well meant cuddle when you just weren’t in the mood? Imagine how your cat feels.

 

Being picked up and hugged can be a stressful for cats. Cats are skilled predators, but they’re also prey animals and being restrained can feel threatening. Next time you’re hankering to cuddle your cat, think about how they might feel about it. Cats are naturally cautious, and they like to keep all four paws on a solid surface, in case they need to leap away.

Understanding this is key to living happily with a cat. In fact, the more you let your cat decide when, where, and how affection will happen, the more they’ll trust you and enjoy the interaction. Cats are more likely to approach us for affection, and to hang around longer, when we let them make the first move.

“Ask” First

Like us, cats prefer that we ask if it’s okay before we touch. Felines who are friends greet each other by touching noses. A human head is too big and potentially intimidating to offer. Try gently offering a fingertip at their nose level, a few inches away, as a way to ask politely, “May I pet you?”

Some cats will say no by walking away. Some may approach but then sit down with a bit of space between you. This is their way of saying, “I’m fine over here, but no touching yet.” No matter how adorable the cat, we need to respect those limits. Many cats will walk up and sniff your finger, and may even rub into it. That’s the invitation for petting.

Watch And Learn

Where you pet a cat matters a great deal to them. If you were visiting a country with a totally unfamiliar culture, you’d watch where and how the people touch each other to figure out what is and is not considered polite. When watching a friendly feline greeting, we find that they lick and touch each other around the cheeks, forehead, back of the neck, and shoulders. They always follow the grain of the fur in friendly interactions. There’s no rubbing the fur up the wrong way.

A couple of studies have found that cats showed more positive responses to their humans,  such as purring, blinking, and kneading their paws, when they were petted on the forehead area and the cheeks. Respect and follow this feline etiquette.

What about that spot at the base of the tail, the one that causes some cats to lift their butt in the air? The petting studies suggest that’s actually not a favourite spot for many cats. Cats who do like it show you very clearly by lifting their behind. If your cat is not raising his butt for more, he’s one of the many who don’t care for that sort of thing.

Even when a cat says okay to touch, we’ve all had that experience where we’re petting a cat and it’s bliss, bliss, bliss—and then suddenly swat! It seems like it all changed in a nanosecond. Cats do have issues when it comes to being touched, and they get overloaded pretty quickly. But not as quickly as we might think. That swat is usually preceded by more subtle signals that we have missed.

How a cat communicates that they have had enough varies for each individual. Signs of over stimulation include the following:

  • Skin over the shoulders stiffens or ripples
  • Whiskers come forward
  • Ears flick back, sideways, or flat
  • Tail flicks or lashes
  • Skin twitches
  • Pupils dilate
  • Claws come out
  • A paw is raised
  • Vocalization (other than purring)

If you see any one of those signs, stop petting. If your cat chooses to remain beside you (because you have been so polite), wait a few minutes before you start petting again or better still, just keep your hands to yourself until they seek affection in their own time.

Of course, every cat is an individual with his own preferences. The best way to pet your cat is just the way they like it. Pay close attention to your cat’s body language, observe the feline rules of politeness, and you’ll both be enjoying more cuddle time.

Alfred ate WHAT!?

Alfred the 6 year old Standard Poodle visited us recently after he refused his breakfast and vomited multiple times at home.

Dr Emily performed a thorough physical exam, whilst palpating his abdomen there were no obvious masses found however Alfred did show signs of pain. We then ran some diagnostic blood tests to see if we could get an indicator of the cause of Alfred’s vomiting. When Alfred’s blood results came back relatively normal Dr Emily and Alfred’s owners decided to perform an abdominal x-ray to check for any gastrointestinal foreign bodies or masses.

As you can see in Alfred’s x-ray above there were 2 foreign bodies found in Alfred’s stomach and small intestine. The decision was made to surgically remove these as they seemed to be stuck in their tracks which was causing him to vomit.

Dr Lesa performed his surgery and removed both items which turned out be stones from the garden! Oh the things dog’s eat..

Thankfully Alfred is feeling much better now and is back to his bright, happy and hungry self!

A Guide to Dog Friendly Canberra

The days are getting longer and the temperature is getting higher here in the Nation’s Capital. What a perfect time to get out and about with your dog. Now more than ever our dogs are truly a part of our families, from tagging along with us to our favourite local cafés to enjoy a puppachino to getting us out of the house for a stroll around our neighbourhood or a play at the local dog park.

Here is your guide to Dog Friendly Canberra!

EAT + DRINK

Daughters at Hall

5 Victoria Street Hall ACT 2618
Open 7 days a week
Weekdays: 6.30am – 5.30pm
Weekends: 8:00am – 4:00pm

The Cupping Room

Check out the @puppersofcuppers on Instagram to see all of The Cupping Room’s canine vistors!

1/1-13 University Avenue Canberra ACT 2601
Open 7 days a week
Weekdays: 7:00am – 4:00pm
Weekends: 8:00am – 3:00pm

RUN + PLAY

Paws 2 Play

Canberra’s only Dog Training and Day Care facility, providing happy and safe play for your pup. For more information head to their website: https://www.paws2play.com.au/

Off Lead Areas
off-leash
dog-prohibited

Key map of nearby dog areas (off leash and dog prohibited)Click in an area to load an interactive map of nearby off-leash and dog-prohibited areas.

Forde Dog Park

Image result for forde dog park

With obstacles and and furry friends a plenty, Forde dog park is a must do for you and your furry friend, but of course, not without following Dog Park Etiquette (see video below).


EVENTS

A Pooch Affair

A Pooch affair will next be held on Saturday 15th of June 2019 from 10am – 4pm

Every year Canberra dog lovers and their pooches get their very own boutique indoor event packed with everything form the Doggie Mall to High Tea with dogs, stage performances and breed specific play dates!

Floriade – Dogs’ Day Out

Floriade Dogs’ Day Out will be back again on Sunday the 14th of October 2018

Canberra’s canines unite to enjoy the beautiful bulbs at Floriade on Dogs’ Day Out. Dancing with dogs and Flyball are just two of the many demonstrations not to be missed on the day, as well as the best dressed dog competition with this years theme of Superheroes.

RSPCA Million Paws Walk

The annual RSPCA Million Paws Walk is back on Sunday the 19th of May 2019

Every year thousands of Canberra’s animal lovers get together and walk the way to a better future for animals in need.


COMMUNITY

Canberra Dog Walks Meetup Group

Head to https://www.meetup.com/Canberra-Dog-Walks-Meetup/ for details on dog walk meetups near you.

Patient Spotlight – Hermione the Schnauzer

Hermione came in to see us as she had been coughing for a few weeks.  We took some x-rays and found that she had a mass in her lungs.

We have outline the lung mass in yellow to make it easier to find

Luckily, there was only one mass, it was discrete, and there were no other changes – her chest wasn’t full of fluid and there was no sign of lymph node enlargement.  However, the mass was pushing down on her airways causing her to cough and if left untreated it would continue to grow and spread.  So, after careful consideration of the risks vs the benefits, Hermione went to surgery to have the affected lung lobe removed.

Prior to her surgery, she had a pre-anaesthetic check up and blood testing done to ensure she was well enough to undergo the procedure. Once she was under general anaesthesia she was prepared for surgery, the side of her chest was clipped and cleaned and because we were entering her chest cavity, one of the nurses had to use a breathing bag to breathe for her throughout the entire procedure.  Her vital signs, ECG, oxygenation and blood pressure were monitored very closely throughout the procedure.  The surgery involved careful removal of the affected lung lobe and tying off the blood vessels in the area to prevent bleeding.  She then had a chest drain placed.

Nurse Keely who monitored Hermione during and after her anaesthetic.

Hermione recovered well from her surgery, initially requiring oxygen support and intravenous pain relief.  Overnight, she was transported via the Pet Ambulance to the Animal Referral Hospital for monitoring.  She returned to us at Hall the next day and was then well enough to head home.

The mass was sent off to the lab for testing and found to be a minimally invasive lung tumour called an adenocarcinoma.  Hermione has been bright, active and well since her surgery, and is enjoying her new lease on life!

Dr Jenny and Dr Vickie with Hermione after her operation

 

 

How to check your pet’s Resting Respiratory Rate (RRR)

Measuring a resting respiratory rate, or sleeping breathing rate, is an important way that you can help monitor your pet at home.  It is an invaluable way that you can help us care for your pet.

Image result for dog sleeping

What is a resting respiratory rate?

A resting respiratory rate is a count of the number of breaths taken per minute.  In dogs and cats with heart disease, it can be one of the first signs that heart failure is starting to develop.  Early detection of this change can help prevent severe breathing problems.

When do I need to take one?

For dogs and cats with heart disease, we will often ask you to measure the resting respiratory rate a few times over 2-3 days to establish a baseline.  After this, we will recommend monitoring this rate 2-3 times a week.

What is normal?

Normal dogs and cats will have a breathing rate in the high teens to early twenties.  We become concerned when we are getting resting respiratory rates that are over 30.  If you notice this it is important to contact us immediately so that we can help.

How do I count my pet’s resting respiratory rate?

It is important to take this measurement when you pet is sound asleep.  Wait until they are resting quietly.  When you are watching your pet you will notice that the chest rises and falls as they take a breath.  This is what we need to count.  As the chest moves in and then out, this is counted as a breath.

Use your phone, a kitchen timer and count the number of breaths in 15 seconds.  Then multiply this number by 4.  Alternatively if it is easier count the number of breaths in 60 seconds (1 minute).  It helps to keep a diary/record of your pet’s breathing rate.   You can even download some apps that will help.

Have a go at counting a resting respiratory rate – the video below goes for 15 seconds.  Notice how the dog is sound asleep.  Count the number of breaths in that time, and then multiply it by 4.  Did you get 40?